Malaysia’s National Security Council Described By New Nsc Secretary

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¶1. (C) Malaysia’s National Security Council Secretary
Muhammad Hatta outlined the NSC structure during a July 23
lunch with DCM and polchief. We include bio notes on Hatta.
End Summary.

NSC Structure

¶2. (C) During a July 23 lunch with DCM and polchief,
Malaysia’s National Security Council Secretary Muhammad Hatta
bin Abdul Aziz commented on the NSC’s structure and role.
The NSC proper is a sub-set of the Cabinet, Hatta explained.
The Prime Minister chairs the NSC. Its members include the
Deputy Prime Minister and all ministers with a
security-related portfolio, as well as the Information
Minister. The chief of the armed forces and the national
police chief are also members. Typically, the full NSC meets
formally two or three times each year, depending on the
issues facing the country.

¶3. (C) NSC Secretary: The position of Secretary reports
directly to the Prime Minister, and the person serves at the
discretion of the PM with no fixed term. The NSC Secretary
is equivalent in rank to a Secretary General in a ministry,
Hatta said. The Secretary attends cabinet-level NSC
meetings. Hatta assumed the position of NSC Secretary in
March 2007, replacing Ahmad Fuad bin Abdul Aziz, who took
Hatta’s former job as Deputy Secretary General in the
Internal Security Ministry.

¶4. (C) NSC office function: The NSC office constitutes the
Council’s professional staff. The office and its Secretary
provide advice and recommendations to the Prime Minister on
issues of national security. The Secretary can recommend the
scheduling of NSC meetings and agenda items. Ministries and
agencies proposing security-related activities to the Prime
Minister and Cabinet do not necessarily need to pass these
proposals through the NSC office. Agencies normally consult
the NSC office on such issues, however, and a written NSC
position normally must accompany security-related
recommendations when these are submitted to the Cabinet.

¶5. (C) Hatta explained that he had changed the name of his
office from the National Security Division to be the National
Security Council to better reflect its core function of
serving as staff for the cabinet-level NSC. Hatta intended
to refocus his office to get back to the fundamental task of
national security, but he did not elaborate further on this
approach. (Note: The GOM’s website does not reflect this
name change. This on-line information continues to list 13
subdivisions within the NSC office, covering a wide variety
of areas including maritime security, disaster response, and
cyber-security. Hatta did not explain whether he sought to
shed existing functions, but his comments seemed to imply as
much. End Note.)

¶6. (C) National Intelligence Division: The NSC office
interacts with the National Intelligence Division (NID)
within the Prime Minister’s Department. The NID supports the
work of the National Intelligence Council, which like the NSC
is chaired by the Prime Minister. NID Under Secretary Hasnan
Zahedi bin Ahmad Zakaria, who attended our July 23 lunch,
chairs the regular working-level meetings of the NID.

Bio Notes

¶7. (C) Muhammad Hatta started his government career in the
Research Division of the Prime Minister’s Department, which
is the public name for the Malaysian External Intelligence
Agency (MEIO). His postings suggest that he continued to
work for MEIO at other points in his career, including in a
director’s role, 2002-2005. He has a graduate degree from
the U.S. and he is at ease interacting with Americans. In
his previous assignment at the Internal Security Ministry, he
made himself relatively accessible to senior Embassy officers
unlike many other Malaysian officials at that level. Hatta
enjoys playing golf on the weekends.

¶8. (U) The following is a lightly edited version of the
biography provided by Hatta’s office:

KUALA LUMP 00001205 002 OF 002

Muhammad Hatta bin Abdul Aziz, 53, is the Secretary to the
National Security Council in the Prime Minister’s Department,
a position he assumed on March 1, 2007. Prior to his current
appointment, he was the Deputy Secretary General (Security)
at the Ministry of Internal Security.

A career officer with Malaysia’s Administrative and
Diplomatic service, Hatta started his civil service career in
1976 at the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s
Department. In 1979, he left for the East Borneo state of
Sabah where he served as a member of the State’s Security
Committee. He returned to the Research Division in the Prime
Minister’s Department in 1980 before being posted as First
Secretary at the Malaysian Embassy in Kuwait in 1981. On his

return to Malaysia in 1984, he joined the Administrative
Division at the Prime Minister’s Department and served until
1988 when he was posted as First Secretary at the Malaysian
Embassy in Burma. His other overseas assignments included
Counselor, Malaysian Embassy Brussels (1990)94) and Minister
Counselor, Malaysian Embassy Jakarta (1998)2002).

He returned to the Prime Minister’s Department in 2002 as
director in the Research Department before being assigned to
the Ministry of Internal Security in 2005, first as Under
Secretary at the Security and Public Order Division and later

as Deputy Secretary General (Security).

Dato’ Hatta was born on September 9, 1953 in Pekan, Pahang.
He has a Bachelors degree in Social Sciences from Malaysia
Science University, Penang, and a Masters degree in
International Relations from the University of Denver.

End biography.